Reimagining the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification


I’m happy to announce that we’re reimagining the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification.

In today’s digital world, the cloud has changed everything about how we work, including how applications are designed, implemented, and secured. This change is definitely for the better, but it brings new challenges to organizations. Deployments must be automated and predictable, architecture has to handle spikes in traffic, applications have to be resilient when failures occur, data must be secure and not vulnerable to malicious actors—and these are just some of the challenges.

The Azure solutions architect is key to all of this and more, and the updated certification better aligns to the skills of real-world solutions architects and the tasks they perform.

What you need to know about the coming update

A successful Azure solutions architect has multifaceted skills and experience, including the ability to both implement and design for the cloud—from start to finish. The updated certification delineates and supports both of these capabilities and validates what’s required for each. Additionally, given the expert level of the certification and the critical demands of the role, it’s important to have the foundation of an associate certification, as is required for our other expert certifications.

We’ll release the beta version of the new Exam AZ-305: Designing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions on November 16, 2021. It will be required to earn the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification. The new exam is focused on the skills required to design cloud and hybrid solutions that run on Azure, including compute, network, storage, monitoring, and security. The exam also includes key skills related to design best practices and patterns, like the ones included in the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure and the Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework. For a deeper look at the skills measured by the new exam, explore the Exam AZ-305 skills outline.

Candidates for this certification will also be required to earn the Azure Administrator Associate certification, which proves subject matter expertise in implementing, managing, and monitoring Azure solutions. By pairing the Azure Administrator Associate certification with the new exam, we’re not only helping to ensure that solutions architects have the skills to implement and design end-to-end infrastructure solutions on Azure, but also we’re streamlining the journey from administrator to architect.

With the introduction of Exam AZ-305, we’re also announcing the retirement of Exam AZ-303: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies and Exam AZ-304: Microsoft Azure Architect Design, effective March 31, 2022.

Your paths to earning the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification

Whether you’re well along on your certification journey or you’re just starting out, to become a Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert, choose one of the following options:

  • Earn or have a current Azure Administrator Associate certification and pass Exam AZ-305 after it’s available.
  • Pass Exam AZ-303 before it retires and pass Exam AZ-305 after it’s available.
  • Pass both Exam AZ-303 and Exam AZ-304 before they retire.

How to prepare for the upcoming beta exam

Even though the new exam won’t be released until November 2021, you can start preparing for it now:

  • Review the Exam AZ-305 (beta) page for details. The Exam AZ-305 skills outline details the key topics covered on the exam.
  • Gear up with the AZ-305 Study Guide created by Microsoft Cloud Advocate @thomasmaurer.
  • Refresh your architecture design skills with the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure and the Azure Well-Architected Framework learning path.
  • Stay tuned for brand-new instructor-led training and self-paced content designed to support your preparation for the upcoming Exam AZ-305, that will be released around beta time (mid-November, 2021).  


Have questions? We’ve got answers

I’m preparing for Exam AZ-303 and Exam AZ-304. What should I do?

If you’ve been preparing for Exam AZ-303 or Exam AZ-304 and you feel ready to take them, you still have time to do it before they retire on March 31, 2022.

If you’ve already passed Exam AZ-303, you can complete your journey by passing the new Exam AZ-305 after it’s available or by passing Exam AZ-304 before it retires on March 31, 2022.

If you’ve already passed Exam AZ-304, be sure to complete your journey by passing Exam AZ-303 before it retires on March 31, 2022.

If you’re just beginning your preparation for either Exam AZ-303 or Exam AZ-304, consider earning your Azure Administrator Associate certification and taking the new AZ-305 exam instead.

How can I prepare for the Azure Administrator Associate certification?

We have plenty of resources to help you prepare for this certification, including content on Microsoft Learn, instructor-led training with Microsoft Learning Partners, and Microsoft Official Practice Tests. Check out the blog post Level up with Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate for more information.


I’ve already earned a Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate certification. What should I do?

The great news is that you’re already halfway to earning the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification. Your next step is to pass Exam AZ-305 after it’s available.


I’ve already earned an Azure Administrator Associate certification, and it’s expiring soon. What’s the best way to keep it up to date?

Be sure to renew your current certification by passing a free renewal assessment on Microsoft Learn. The renewal assessment can be completed online on your own time, anytime within six months before your certification expires. Is your certification expiring soon? Renew it for free today!


Can I renew my current Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification by passing Exam AZ-305 (beta) before my certification expires?

No. To renew your certification, you need to pass the renewal assessment before your certification expires.

I’ve already earned a Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification, but I don’t have an Azure Administrator Associate certification. Will I lose my certification?

No. The prerequisite will be for candidates who take Exam AZ-305 after it’s available. Currently, Exam AZ-303 and Exam AZ-304 prove the skills for implementation and design, so you don’t need to earn the Azure Solutions Administrator Associate certification.

Why is Microsoft making this change now?

We regularly review our portfolio to ensure that our certifications remain technically relevant. Certifications can open career opportunities, so we’re committed to keeping them current for you. To understand our process, check out Updating Microsoft Certifications: How we keep them relevant.

How can I get more involved in the certification and exam creation process?

During our portfolio review, we listen carefully to feedback on the skills that need to be measured for specific roles—like we did for the Azure Solutions Architect Expert. If you want to share your voice and insight, read Help Us Create Exams and Learning Content! Join Our SME Database Today!

Stay tuned

On November 16, 2021, watch for our blog post announcing the beta version of Exam AZ-305, and start preparing now with the skills outlines and the content on Microsoft Learn. Your Microsoft Certification can help validate that you have the skills to stay ahead with today’s technology—for your career, your team, and your organization. It’s time to spotlight your architecture design and implementation skills and strengths with the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification.

Related announcements

Finding the right Microsoft Azure certification for you

The link to the AZ-305 Guide by @thomasmaurer is broken. It does not appear to be available yet on his website. Thanks!
Resolved. Thanks!

I was in doubt, I already have the two exams 303 and 304, will I need to take the 305? Or does it automatically switch to 305?

I love that the data component is having more weight than the 10-15% which was before. Already earned AZ 400, AZ 204, AZ 104 and hoping this AZ 305 will complete my path. Unfortunately I am almost done preparing for AZ 303/304 and will have take them before March 2022. I must applaud that having one exam for the expert certification over and above the associate ones makes perfect sense.

I wonder why Azure Administrator Associate is the pre-requisite? why not Azure Developer Associate instead? or they could have made either one of these 2, plus AZ-305

@Michel_Jatoba, If you already passed Exam AZ-303 and Exam AZ-304, you are already Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert.

Congratulations! You don’t need to take the new Exam AZ-305. But you need to stay tuned when your current certification is ready for renewal, to take the free renewal assessment on Microsoft Learn.

Will AZ-305 have a beta version exam discount? 

I have an exam voucher that’s applicable to AZ-303 and AZ-304, will that work for AZ-305?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but looking at the skills outlines of AZ-303, AZ-304, and AZ-305, I believe that AZ-304 and AZ-305 are pretty similar as far as what exactly will be covered, except for how each domain will be weighted. If so, since the news of AZ-305 is pretty much hot off the press, if we already have the Azure Admin cert, should we essentially study and prepare for AZ-304 and then just take AZ-305 instead?

The current format has two 300 level exams. The new one, you can choose to take AZ-104 + AZ-305 which is a 100 level and a 300 level exam.  Is this a downgrade in the exam value?

I already gotten my AZ-303 and I look at both AZ-304/5 are very similar in content and the later AZ-305 won’t be available until November. Should I just take AZ-304 to complete the track or wait wait for AZ-305 in November?

Will there be free exam voucher available for AZ-305 since it is a beta exam or the AZ-304 since it will be retired in a few months?

Any Beta Exam Code for MCT?

@Fred_Legaspi, Yes, when we announce the beta availability for Exam AZ-305, we will offer the usual beta discount code. 

I am not sure the discount voucher you already have will work. Some times discount vouchers are set up for specific exams only.

Stay tuned on November 16, 2021 for the beta exam blog post, so you are among the first 300 people to use the code. Be sure to subscribe to “Beta exams” or to “Liberty Munson’s” blog posts (tip: we usually posts Azure beta exam between 8 am and 10 am US Pacific Time).

@pedramadili, you are on the right direction. the new Exam AZ-305 is an enhancement of the Exam AZ-304. I’ve been told it will have more use case type of questions, and it will include topics that you will find in the the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure and the Azure Well-Architected Framework. 

If you already have earned the Azure Administrator Associate certification, your choice to become Azure Solutions Architect Expert is to take the new AZ-305.

So yes, prepare for Exam AZ-304, adding the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure and the Azure Well-Architected Framework, and take Exam AZ-305 once it is available.

@hykok, our exam numbers don’t reflect the level of expertise you require to earn a certification. All our fundamentals certification exams are XX-900 .

What indicates the level of expertise is the “Fundamentals”, “Associate”, “Expert”, or “Specialty” word that qualify each one of the certifications:

Azure Fundamentals

Azure Administrator Associate

Azure Solutions Architect Expert

Since you already have passed Exam AZ-303, you have choices, depending on how far are you on your preparation for Exam AZ-304, or when you want to earn your Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification:

  • If you are ready to take Exam AZ-304, I’d go for it.
  • If you need/want to earn your Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification before November 16, 2021, you should take and pass Exam AZ-304 now.
  • If you can/want wait until November, I’d take the Exam AZ-305. As I mention in another answer, you can start preparing for Exam AZ-304, adding the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure and the Azure Well-Architected Framework, and take Exam AZ-305 once it is available.

When we release Exam AZ-305 on November 16, 2021, we will have the usual beta discount (for a limited number of people, a limited time period, and available in certain countries).

@cyrus822, yes, the Microsoft Certified Trainer program will have the usual access to beta exams.


I already have an Associate certification for AZ-500.

Can it be used to satisfy prerequisite for AZ-305?

Is there any impacts on cloud skills challenge. Currently I am working that solution architect challenge. After completing my challenge, for which exam(s) I got 50% discount.

hi there,

I know Microsoft has been changing their certs more frequently than any other providers, but other top two providers such as AWS and Google Cloud doesn’t have an administration cert as a pre-requisite for their professional architect cert.

I am not keen on hands on and I already have AZ-304, the same way I did AWS architect pro cert, as I am not keen or have time to do hands on labs.

Am I reading now that Microsoft is mandating that everyone should have hands on experience even for an architect who provide solutions but not necessarily do day to day hands on work? To be honest introducing an admin type exam as a pre-requisites for an professional architect cert for me doesn’t make sense.


Best regards,


I honestly don’t welcome this change. This started with associate and now architect. The difficulty to earn these titles in the past was more challenging and more comprehensive in my opinion. Now I can only see a movement to make it easy, it seems that the goal is just to facilitate how to gain a title. We can see many new certs coming, such as AZ800 and 801, and I would bet that they will merge eventually. 


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